When Louis van Gaal led the Netherlands to a third-place finish at the World Cup in Brazil, it wasn’t just the Dutch that were rejoicing, as Manchester United fans had endless cause for optimism.
With a seemingly average squad, the 62-year-old worked wonders in South America as his tactical brilliance shone through even in the most desperate of times.
That’s something that United were missing under David Moyes last season, along with several other footballing necessities, but things are looking different under Van Gaal.
It’s no surprise that United’s new boss is now looking to bring several of his top World Cup performers to Old Trafford, and he recently said that he wants his new club to play like the national team—per BBC Sport:
"I hope the group in Manchester will become like this one (the Dutch World Cup squad). We have to sing from the same hymn sheet."
With that in mind, it looks like he’s turning to the Netherlands to bolster United’s frail defensive line, with two big-name stars in line for a move to Old Trafford.
The first of whom is Stefan de Vrij, who performed admirably at centre-back during the World Cup under the guidance of Van Gaal.
With Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand moving away from the club and current centre-backs still yet to prove their worth, De Vrij would be the ideal man to come in and shore up the defence—as he proved in Brazil.
His ability to read the game and remain composed at the World Cup was second to none. OptaJohan statistics highlighted as much:
25 - Stefan de Vrij made the most interceptions (25) of all players at the 2014 World Cup. Anticipated.— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) July 19, 2014
At just 22 years of age, De Vrij is the perfect candidate to lead the club into a new centre-back era, and he may well have a fellow countryman alongside him in the United defence should he make the switch.
As Anthony Hay of the Daily Mail revealed, reports from Mundo Deportivo in Spain suggest that Van Gaal is also moving for Daley Blind, who shone at left-back for the Dutch in Brazil.
Hay wrote that Blind, who is very much a utility man for Ajax, is valued at £17.4 million, and it’s safe to say that his versatility would make him worth every penny to United.
Able to play at left-back, centre-back or holding midfield, Blind would be a great asset to Van Gaal in his revolution at Old Trafford, but Ajax manager Frank de Boer believes he’ll be staying in the Dutch capital.
Speaking with AT5, reported via Sky Sports, when De Boer was asked whether Blind will be leaving Ajax in the transfer window, he responded:
“Personally, I don’t think so. Everyone is obviously for sale, but we feel that those three players, the World Cup players (Blind, Jasper Cillessen and Joel Veltman), with a few guys in the current squad, should be the water-carriers of this squad.”
Bind would undoubtedly be a water-carrier of the United squad if he made the move to the Premier League, but it’s now up to Van Gaal’s powers of negotiation to make sure he gets the chance to be just that.
Based on his World Cup performance, it would be a cause worth fighting for, too, and Bleacher Report’s Sam Tighe believes that Blind was one of the players of the tournament in Brazil:
I'm also constructing some final player rankings for post-tournament viewing. Let's just Daley Blind is gonna be up there. Great tourny #NED— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) July 12, 2014
Taking a leaf from the Dutch book wouldn’t be the worst way to go about business in the United hot seat for Van Gaal, and it would certainly bring the best out of his prized asset, Robin van Persie.
In De Vrij and Blind, Van Gaal would have two solid players with the ability to launch textbook Dutch and United counter-attacks, allowing the likes of Van Persie, Rooney and Co. to shine once again.